The benefits of smart plugs, smart switches and power strips for businesses are aplenty. Capable of saving 20 to 30 per cent of energy consumption by controlling electrical appliances, these devices have become regular favourites in many offices. However, their usefulness expands beyond the realm of energy savings. Commonly found in current ratings between 6A and 16A, smart plugs can be useful in an amazingly large number of applications.
Smart plugs find an interesting use case in the form of billboards and signage control. Parth Bhatt, application engineer, Energy Bots, shared applications of their ePlug: “Brands often find their signage boards turned off. One of our customers is using ePlug to monitor whether the retail stores where they have advertised their board are turning it on in time or not. They are using it to remotely control and automate the lighting schedule of their boards.”
Betty, a smart plug made by Beyond Evolution, is also finding similar uses. Enterprises are using it to turn on the billboards during evening and turn these off at dawn.
Cold storage and retail store owners can make great use of smart plugs. Saurabh Sharma, founder of Beyond Evolution, shared that grocery retail store owners use Betty to manage chillers that store their fresh food, milk products and so on. The smart plug allows them to automatically or remotely turn chillers on and off, and track the power consumption data to keep an eye on the performance and energy expenses.
Be it a bank, a jewellery shop or an office, smart plugs and switches can be customised for security notifications and alerts. One such example is Smarteefi. Bipin Gahlaut, founder, CoreEmbedded Technologies, shared, “A lot of jewellers are purchasing our Smarteefi smart strip system. They are using it for security purposes alongside automating their lighting appliances.”
Sharma explained, “The security sensors we provide with Betty are used by many customers to receive alerts in case there is any unexpected intrusion in their homes while they are away. They are also using the same for their offices on holidays and after work hours.”
Smart plug can help to ensure that router is not running while the office is closed. Bhatt shared, “One of our customers is using ePlug to turn off their Wi-Fi routers every night after 11pm. He is using it both at his office and home. It has also greatly helped him to restrict his children’s access to the Internet after a certain time of the day.”
Smart switches are also being used in data-critical environments like data centres and banks. “Many IT companies are using Smarteefi to automate their data centre schedules. These applications are not just time-based functions but rather operations based on real-time situations. For instance, they are using smart systems to turn off certain units when the load is less and turn them back on when the load increases,” Gahlaut shared.
Smart switch customisations are enabling banks to manage their systems while complying with their security policies. Gahlaut mentioned, “We customise our smart appliances in such a way that the banks can control their systems without having to connect to the Internet. For security purposes, they need to connect their system to their intranet only.”
Keeping in mind the limitation of 16A current capacity, industries are using smart plugs to automate some of their machines. Sharma shared, “There are customers from specific industrial and manufacturing units who wish to automatically turn off their machines at predetermined time intervals. Betty is being put to such uses as well, keeping the power capacities in mind.”
Gahlaut explained with an example, “Suppose you are a phone manufacturer and you have to perform 50 test cases of switching on and off the phone under test. You can schedule these 50 test cases by connecting your test instrument with the smart appliance instead of directly controlling from the power input. Once the tests are done, the testing instrument will automatically be turned off.”
Smart plugs can be quite useful for managing medical equipment as well as regular appliances at medical facilities. Gahlaut cited an example, “A senior doctor from the oncology department in AIIMS bought three of our smart appliances. He is using these to control some of his instruments alongside electrical appliances. We are also connected with 8-10 nursing homes who are buying our product to manage their medical equipment better.”
Controlling air-conditioner usage is the biggest application—be it at homes, offices or business chambers. Scheduling water pumps according to odd timing of water supply is another popular use case. Smart switches are also used to control televisions, coffee machines, microwaves or any kind of pluggable devices automatically or remotely as required.
Most smart devices provide comparative analytics of the power consumption data of all devices, enabling users to know which appliance is drawing more power and how it can be managed. Thus smart plugs help to reduce energy wastage and cut down electricity expenses.